Just a few weeks before the scheduled event and a rapidly emerging public health crisis, Joseph and her team had to make the call on whether it would proceed. Dialysis patients are at greater risk for COVID-19, and their clinical caregivers couldn’t get to New Orleans — one of the virus hotspots in the U.S. — without risking creating mini-epicenters across the country.
Joseph decided to go virtual March 9 and announced it to attendees on March 10. The NKF team contacted Zoom the next day to figure out how to make it all happen.
“We had used Zoom Meetings internally for a while, so we reached out, and the Zoom team really helped us understand what was possible,” Joseph said.
NKF obtained more than a dozen Zoom webinar licenses for the event and planned to use Zoom to host the entire conference in the same exact way — same tracks, same sessions, and in the same time zone — it would have in person.
“We used all webinars all the way through, but had we known in time that one specific session wanted to do breakout groups, we could have easily scheduled that as a Zoom Meeting and utilized the Breakout Rooms feature,” Joseph said.
Communicating the new logistics for the Spring Clinical Meetings as quickly as possible was a challenge, Joseph noted, but planning and preparation upfront helped mitigate that.
“Lots of people were skeptical that it could be pulled off (virtually), especially the speakers who were used to presenting to a room full of people,” she said. “Once we set up all the Zoom webinar IDs, we scheduled the speakers and sent out calendar invites with unique panelist links for each presenter. We also did some planning and run-throughs for corporate-sponsored symposiums and the keynote sessions to make sure everyone tested out the Q&A feature, screen sharing, and that their mics all worked.”
The Foundation also used Zoom Webinar's polling feature for at least 60% of the sessions to gauge knowledge levels, interest in certain areas, and encourage debate. This type of engagement is not only a good way to keep people participating and learning, it’s often a requirement.
“For continuing medical education for pharmacists, for instance, you have to have active learning strategies built in,” Joseph said. “And polling is the perfect tool to ensure that happens.”